Governments lie. They do it all the time. And, much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the US government is no exception. There were times when we may have believed otherwise. But after Vietnam and Watergate, we know better.
Ted Koppel – The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War, July 1 1992, ABC News
Today, ABC News reported that the Pentagon investigation into the American downing of an Iranian Flight 665 has found that the airliner was emitting only a civilian signal.
US officials familiar with the Pentagon report said the cruiser Vincennes mistook a signal from a C-130 military plane at the Bandar Abbas airfield in Iran for the signal from the airliner. 290 people were killed in the tragedy.
The New York Times had already reported on Aug. 3 that an electronic signal from a C-130 had been mistaken for the one emitted by the Civilian airliner.
But the ABC News finding that the Iran Air flight was emitting only civilian signals is the last nail in the coffin of the early theory reported by US officials. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Pentagon had claimed that the airliner had put out a military signal.
In Dearborn, MI, Travels and Tours arranges Kalid Jaafar next round of travels with RJA.
Back to the Present (2008)
The next public procedural hearing for the extraordinary second appeal of Megrahi will take place tomorrow August 20. However, there was today a private hearing involving only the Crown and the Advocate General. No one knows what was discussed, let alone agreed in the absence of the Defense.
“[By August 20 2008], the judges will have read and absorbed the mystery document in respect of which the UK Government has claimed public interest immunity. This is the very first time of which I am aware in Scottish legal history that a hearing has been convened in a criminal appeal from which the appellant and his legal representatives have been excluded. It should also be the last,” Pr. Black wrote recently.
Letter of Hans Koechler to UK Foreign secretary Miliband
“As international observer, appointed by the United Nations, at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands I am also concerned about the Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate which has been issued by you [Miliband] in connection with the new Appeal of the convicted Libyan national. Withholding of evidence from the Defense was one of the reasons why the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred Mr. Al-Megrahi’s case back to the High Court of Justiciary.
The Appeal cannot go ahead if the Government of the United Kingdom, through the PII certificate issued by you, denies the Defense the right (also guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights) to have access to a document which is in the possession of the Prosecution. How can there be equality of arms in such a situation? How can the independence of the judiciary be upheld if the executive power interferes into the appeal process in such a way?
In that regard, I have the honor to draw your attention to the recent decision of Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stay the proceedings in the case of the Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo because of the non-disclosure of exculpatory material (“Decision on the consequences of non-disclosure of exculpatory materials …” of 13 June 2008). The judges stated that “The Chamber has unhesitatingly concluded that the right to a fair trial – which is without doubt a fundamental right – includes an entitlement to disclosure of exculpatory material“ and referred to an ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] ruling according to which “the public interest […] is excluded where its application would deny to the accused the opportunity to establish his or her innocence”. (In a further decision, dated 2 July 2008, Trial Chamber I of the ICC ordered the release of Mr. Dyilo.)
I sincerely hope that the British Government will not ignore the basic principle of fairness as expressed in these rulings of international criminal courts and will not insist on a measure that would, if upheld, effectively prevent the Scottish High Court of Justiciary to go ahead with Mr. Al-Megrahi’s Appeal. It is fair to expect that the standards of criminal justice adhered to in the United Kingdom (and within the devolved justice system of Scotland, for that matter) should not be lower than those of international criminal courts and should definitely be in conformity with the requirements of Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention.
Should further appeal proceedings become impossible because of the forced non-disclosure of evidence to the Defense, not only myself, who followed the proceedings in the Netherlands as international observer, but the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie tragedy will be prevented from any further chance of knowing the truth about those responsible for the midair explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. Many who, like myself, initially trusted in the integrity of the judicial process under Scots law, will feel betrayed. There is no justice without truth – and there can be no truth if evidence is withheld in a criminal case by governmental decree.”
NOTES AND REFERENCES